Two-toned rose variety cuts a striking figure at J&K Rosa’s Jumilia Experience

Freshly-harvested Jumilea roses.

With its up to seven-centimetre large flower heads, sturdy and long stems, a minimum shelf life of two weeks, and a spectacular two-tone swirl, Rosa ‘Jumilia’, bred by United Selections and grown by second-generation rose professional Koen Meewisse, occupied pride of place during a well-attended B2B rose event on Thursday, 21 March, at Meewisse’s cut rose nursery, J&K Rosa.

It is safe to say that Dutch-grown roses have experienced turbulent times for the past two years. Tenacious inflation and the mounting cost of energy, labour, and multiple other production inputs forced some growers to cease operations altogether or to diversify and swap their rose blooms for other ornamentals, such as cut Hydrangea. This situation pushed cut rose production further abroad, notably to Kenya.

The overall picture in the Dutch rose industry shows a decline in the production area and volume year on year, with production being pushed abroad, notably to Kenya.

The glasshouse area down to roses in the Netherlands has fallen from 800ha to less than 130ha over the last 22 years. The volume of Dutch production passing through Royal FloraHolland fell to below one billion stems, approximately 16 per cent of total sales volume. Five years ago, this percentage was still close to 25 per cent.

Second-generation rose grower Koen Meewisse of Berkel en Rodenrijs-based J&K Rosa.

Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, there are the die-hards in Dutch roses, such as Koen Meewisse, who in Berkel and Rodenrijs, remains the sole commercial rose grower in what was once a thriving rose production area known as the B-Triangle, including Berkel and Rodenrijs, Bleiswijk and Bergschenhoek.

In a European market dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian-grown (retail) roses, he and his auction-based wholesale customers try to carve out a unique place by focusing on freshness, just-in-time delivery, a unique product portfolio, decades-long rose expertise (Koen’s father Johan began growing roses in 1976), and excellent shelf life.

Apart from a dose of resilience, perseverance, and entrepreneurship, Meewisse invested in a new co-generation plant. He candidly admits that while he kept to his growing cycle, he was also forced to focus on selling electricity on the grid to keep the business afloat, constantly identifying ways to save and conserve energy during the six to eight most challenging months of the 2022/2023 growing season.

In an extraordinary bit of serendipity, Koen was fortunate to have chosen high-yielding varieties such as the stylish, heavily petalled white ‘Avalanche+’ and, more recently, the ‘Jumilia’ rose.

United Selections, whose roots go back to late gerbera and rose breeder Pim Preesman and is currently co-owned by Ahmed Nzibo (chairman) and Jelle Posthumus (CEO), launched the rose in 2012.

Next year, Koen Meewisse will switch entirely to Rosa ‘Jumilia’.

‘Jumilia’—named after German rose grower Kretz’s daughter Judith Emilia—is suitable for high-end florists and other flower retailers. Its blend of colours, large flower heads, and up to 90 cm long stems help create a rich in-store experience for shoppers.

‘Jumilia’ is naturally not the first bicolour rose. Arguably, the one variety closest to comparison is ‘Paloma’, mostly grown in Ecuador for the American or Russian market. Africa has between eight to ten hectares planted with ‘Jumilia’, of which 70 per cent finds its way onto the Middle East market or is marketed directly. However, this rose does not showcase the same spectacular blend of colours as seen in Dutch-grown’ Jumilia’. In Europe, the rose is in the top three most planted bicolours.

At the well-attended Jumilia Experience hosted by J&K Rosa and United Selections, a group of fellow Jumilea producers from Kenya marvelled at Meewisse’s premium quality ‘Jumilia’ that literally lit up the place.

‘Jumilia’ is truly special in that its pink edging is solid, contrary to the dotted or dashed line seen in most bicoloured roses. Moreover, with a minimum two-week shelf life, large six-centimetre (packed in green sleeves), and seven-centimetre flower heads, it represents good value for money. Harvesting at the right time is crucial, as petals must be semi-opened for the best performance at the consumer’s level.

The rose enjoys a high degree of consumer appeal; in June 2022, ‘Jumilia’ earned a top spot in Floriade’s Best in Show Awards, winning the visitor vote. German rose grower Stefan Kretz from Straehlen confirms that he has 6,000m² of greenhouse space planted with ‘Jumilia’. The variety, he says, is among one of the 3ha rose nursery’s bestsellers.

Today, ‘Avalanche+’ thrives only in one section of J&K Rosa’s three-hectare greenhouse fitted with a hybrid LED/HPS lighting installation. Next year, the company will switch entirely to ‘Jumilia’, bringing the total Dutch production area of the cultivar to six-hectare, with Marjoland and Van der Hulst also growing the rose.

With prices frequently well above €1 per stem since the second half of January and the energy market in less rocky waters, Meewisse is now going full steam ahead and has found the right balance between keeping quality high and energy consumption acceptable.

↑ Back to top